Understanding Dog Food Labels

Interpreting The Ingredients In Your Dog's Food

The dog food industry today is booming with hundreds of different brands and types of dog food. With misleading packaging and confusing “natural” labels, it can be difficult to know if you’re feeding your dog the best dry dog food.
I’ve done a little research and I’ve found that many commercial dog food brands are actually harmful to a dog’s diet.

Risks of Commercial Dog Foods

When you walk down the pet food aisles at any store, it seems like every dog food package contains the word “natural". But not all brands mean the same thing by “natural". The official Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) definition of the word “natural” is very open to the manufacturer’s interpretation. Although “natural” seems like it should mean that very ingredient in the dog food is natural, the reality is that many “natural” dog foods contain a variety of additives and low-quality, overly processed ingredients.

In the world of pet food, the word “organic” basically means nothing by official standards because there are no official or legal certifications for pet food to be labeled organic.
So how can you find out what commercial dog food is safe for a healthy dog diet?
The best option to ensure that your dog gets the best canine nutrition out there is to make your own homemade dog food. Unfortunately, not everyone has the time or resources to do that. However, there are some ways you can check to see that your dry dog food is good for your dog!

Different types of dog food ingredients spread out together on a table

Different types of dog foods

Dog Food Ingredients Check


There are many ingredients that are useless or dangerous in dog food. Watch out for them in your dog food ingredients list! Commercial dog food should NOT contain any of these ingredients.
- high-carb foods like corn, potatoes, or rice
These have no nutritional value for your dog and corn is even a common dog allergen.

- ingredients with the term “crude” in front of them (crude protein, fiber, fats)
The term “crude” can mean anything that has protein/fat/fiber from the quality ingredients to more indigestible items like chicken feet or corn hulls. Because you can’t really know what it means, it’s best to leave dog food with “crude” ingredients on the shelf at the store.
- meat by-products and meat meal.
By-products are anything attached to the processed meat, like organs and more indigestible parts of the animal like stomach lining. Meat meal can mean anything attached to the animal, from feathers to hooves!
- soy
This can damage your dog’s endocrine system.
- ethoxyquin
This additive is banned in human foods, but pet food manufacturers are still legally allowed to use it as a preservative.

Sensitivity Check

You can check your dog’s food sensitivity levels to see if there any additional ingredients you should watch out for!
If Homemade Dog Food Isn’t an Option
Fortunately, there are few dry dog food brands don’t contain any harmful ingredients! I prefer freeze- dried over dried for my dogs, but all these brands provide what a healthy dog’s diet should have!

Freeze Dried Dog Food Brands

Stella and Chewy’s
Honest Kitchen

Dry Dog Food Brands

Taste of the Wild


If you enjoyed this article please leave a comment. You may also enjoy this article about why your dog is not listening.

I highly recommend Dr. Becker's book 'Real Food For Healthy Dogs And Cats! I also highly recommend using a supplement to ensure your dog does not develop any nutritional deficiencies.

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